It’s OK to block people

“Michael, I’m having a bit of a conflict and I’d like some help with it. You said it’s OK to block people to protect yourself and I agree with you. But, I blocked someone and I feel weird about it.”

Sure, let’s talk about it. Do you feel guilty?

“No, not really. I mean, he’s not entitled to me. But something feels off. I can’t put my finger on it.”

The block button exists for a reason. Are you worried you’re not doing the right thing?

“I’m pretty sure I’m doing the right thing. You should have seen what he did after I blocked him. He didn’t respect my decision. Instead, he posted all kinds of nasty stuff about me. He said I was ugly and that he wanted to hurt me. I mean, I know he was hurt and that’s why he did that, but that’s not the kind of thing you can take back so easily. I’m trying to make sense of that.”

It sounds like you feel doubtful?

“There’s no doubt I told him not to contact me, and he’s still doing it. You’d think blocking him would have been enough for him to get the message. At the same time, I understand he’s doing it for his own reasons, not to invade my life. Hence the tension.”

Do you want him to stop contacting you?

“Yeah, of course. Why else would I have blocked him and told him in no uncertain terms to stop? I mean, I think I want him to stop…Look, he’s acting like a stalker. I should be allowed to move on. It’s not up to him. Argh…I don’t know. I’m worried I’m being rigid. But why is he hanging on to something that’s gone?”

I can definitely feel the conflict. Do you mind if we make it more physical, rather than intellectual? I’m hearing a lot from you about how wrong his behavior is. I’m more interested in hearing what’s going on for you, emotionally.

“I don’t want to be so judgmental, but at the same time, I need to protect myself. You know?”

Yeah. It sounds like you’re torn because you want to be kind to other people but you also want to be kind to yourself.

“Right. But, I don’t see any way to do that. I don’t want to be so mean to him.”

Are you feeling guilty?

“Um…well…For example, I don’t want to hurt him by telling him what I’ve been up to since we last talked. It’s not my problem he doesn’t have a lot of friends. I’m not his mother or his therapist. He should get his life together. ”

I’m sensing there might be some anger here.

“I’m not feeling anything. He’s just not a good person. :sigh:…I know I have trauma that’s making this difficult. I’m not good at this kind of thing.”

Hold on, let’s stay here for a second. It sounds like you have some strong feelings here, and that you’re frustrated because you wish you could explore them. Tell me more about what thinking about him brings up for you.

“I’m not sure…It feels too overwhelming for me.”

Can you try? Tell me something that bothers you about the situation.

“The truth is, it’s my fault. I was so stupid. I was really into him but it was one-sided. I’ve made that mistake in the past but I’ve learned to stop doing it. OK, maybe this is part of my conflict: I’m noticing I’m being self-critical about this.”

This sounds important. I’m hearing that you feel disappointed. I also sense that you’re feeling hesitant to allow yourself to be disappointed.

If you’re disappointed, it makes sense you’d have critical thoughts. You didn’t get what you wanted. Your expectations weren’t met. So, you’re looking for a reason why…a way to prevent it from happening in the future.

“I feel so stupid. We weren’t even in an official relationship. It might just be my abandonment issues…but I hated that so much. WTF.”

I want to hear more about your feelings. Don’t brush those under the carpet. They’re the most important thing in the room.

“I’m not good at feelings.”

That’s OK. You’re learning. This is a safe place to practice.

“I just don’t see why I should have to pretend like nothing happened. He’s obsessing over me. He never paid attention to me while we were together and now suddenly he is.”

What do you feel when you think about that?

“I have no idea. Part of me feels vindicated, to be honest.”

And the other part?

“I guess it feels hurt.”

Why does it feel hurt?

“I trusted him and he betrayed me.”

That sounds really painful.

“I’m over it. I’m not getting sucked back into any of his bullshit again.”

It sounds to me like you feel scared when you think about talking to him again because you want to ensure your needs are met. You want to know you’re not going to be betrayed.

“Yeah. I don’t trust him. To be honest, I don’t trust myself either. I’m worried I’m going to be a people-pleaser, or that I’m going to have uncontrollable emotions.”

It’s like you have to choose between losing yourself or facing an uncertain void that could mean annihilation. No wonder there’s tension.

“It’s just easier to move on and put this behind me.”

Are you feeling pressure to make a decision?

“Yeah, I guess. He keeps sending me emails. WTF am I supposed to do with them? Part of me knows he’s doing it because he’s trying to get his needs met. But at the same time, I can’t hear myself think.”

Have you told him this?

“I shouldn’t have to tell him. It’s not my responsibility to placate him…No, I haven’t told him. I’m afraid to. I don’t know why. The whole thing just feels stuck.”

Are you feeling stuck because there’s a lot you’d want to say, and you’re nervous because you don’t know how to say it all and you don’t want to lose control?

“Yeah. There’s a lot that happened. We were so close and then it ended. He got into fights online with some of my friends. It’s just a huge mess. I’m overwhelmed. I just want it to go away. ”

I wish I knew how to solve this. What I do know is that your feelings are more important than any right/wrong answer about what you should do.

Sit with the tension and let him worry about himself.

“I feel guilty.”

I know.

When I hear you say that, I hear that you have compassion for the pain of others, but also that you’re putting pressure on yourself to act properly. But, all that judgment is making it hard for you to feel your emotions.

“I get what you’re saying. Instead of being with myself in the present, I’m jumping to conclusions about my behavior or his behavior, trying to figure out what’s right and what’s wrong. But…how else can I make good decisions?”

I don’t know. I feel the uncertainty.


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